What To Do If Your Child Pours Hot Water On Himself?

Burns caused by hot water can be very painful and take a long time to heal. And if it happens to your child, such accidents can be even more traumatic to deal with. So, what can be done?

By Mandavi Jaiswal  • 7 min read

What To Do If Your Child Pours Hot Water On Himself?
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Burns are a potential hazard in every household. These are painful to deal with and worse, take a long time to heal. And with little children around, there can be unfortunate accidents in the kitchen or the bathroom. Your child could accidentally put his hand in hot water while taking a bath or, worse, get scalded when hot tea or coffee spill on him. 

Children more at risk

When it comes to burns, young children are more at risk. Children are curious by nature and like to explore. They are often unaware that hot items, hot drinks or hot water can cause burns. For instance, your feisty toddler could unexpectedly decide to reach up or grab hot items like a cup of tea, soup or milk kept on the dining table. Or, what if you're sitting with a mug of coffee and your toddler decides to scramble into your lap that very instant? In such cases, there can be burns on your little one's hands, legs, neck or face. 

Such accidents can happen at any time, even during festivals. And then, you may even have to administer first aid. Hence, you need to learn how to treat burns quickly and effectively. This is crucial for your child's speedy recovery.

Note: Did you know that when tap water reaches 140-degree Fahrenheit, it can cause a third-degree burn in just 5 seconds?

A child’s skin is much more delicate than an adult’s and can get damaged easily. What's more, burns are a major cause of serious injury in children from newborn to 12 years.

Most common causes of burn from hot liquids

  • Hot drinks left unattended and within easy reach of children
  • Sipping a hot drink while holding your baby in your arms or lap
  • Steam from microwave or oven
  • Running hot water before cold water into the bathtub
  • A child getting into a bath before checking the temperature

Continuous and adequate supervision of young children is the single most important factor in preventing hot liquid burns.

What happens when a child spills or pours hot liquid on himself?

Depending on the degree of skin damage, burns can be very painful for children. In some cases, it might even prove fatal. First, you need to be aware of the intensity of the burn.

When a child pours hot liquid on himself accidentally, you will notice redness and swelling on the affected part. If the burn is severe, there will be mild to deep blistering. If the burn is a serious one i.e. one that affects all three layers of the skin, there will be a change in the texture of the skin from normal and smooth to a leathery and waxy texture. In some cases, the skin may be fully burnt away. This is categorised as a third-degree burn and requires immediate medical attention.

First Aid for burns

Remove the heat source immediately to avoid further injury. Remove any clothing or jewellery near the affected area to lower the temperature of the skin and allow room for swelling. Put the damaged area under cool running water for at least 20 mins. If the burn is larger than 2-3 inches or a third-degree burn, seek immediate medical attention.

Burns take time to heal, from a few days to weeks, depending on the severity of skin damage. If you notice shock symptoms in your child or any signs of pus or infection, visit a doctor immediately.

It is important to cool the burn as it helps ease the pain and prevent further damage to the skin. Cooling reduces the severity of the burn injury, improves wound healing and reduces the risk of the long-term scar. In case you don’t have access to cool running water use cold liquids like milk until you reach cold running water.

Also see: Why children too need to know First Aid

Don’ts for burns

  • Don’t break any blisters.
  • Don’t remove clothing or jewellery if it’s stuck to the affected area as this will only cause further damage.
  • Don’t use ice or iced water.
  • Don’t apply ghee, oils or greasy items as it will trap the heat and increase the temperature of the affected area.

Things to remember

  • Avoid putting any bandage on the burn as it will need to be removed later at the hospital causing further pain, distress and damage.
  • Never leave children alone and unattended in the kitchen or bathroom.
  • In case of a burn, apply immediate first aid and simultaneously call for medical assistance.
  • Be aware of potential hazards in your house that could cause burns.
  • Be extra cautious when handling your child in a hurry, multitasking or visiting family during holidays.

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